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Internet Dating

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question:  I am in my late-sixties and have been a widow for three years.  My children urge me to date and go online.  I am somewhat reluctant.  I’ve never chased men; they were always after me.  How does one even begin this process?  I have a sense that this online dating is really for the younger folks.  Is that true?  And how do you get over the apprehension?  N.S.

Dear N.S.: It’s difficult getting back into the game after so many years.  Today, the first move is made by both men and women, regardless of age.

Let’s talk about who is engaged in Internet dating.  According to the New York Times’ article, “Second Love at First Click” by Stephanie Rosenbloom (October 6, 2011), people age 55 and older are visiting American dating sites more than any other age group.  Compared to three years ago, there has been a 39 per cent increase.  The number two group is singles 45 to 54.

Rosenbloom writes that many older Americans are “logging on for love.”  And the reasons are many. Among those 50 and older, 37 per cent are unmarried.   And the divorce rate for the 50+ is high.  With more people living longer, independently and being computer savvy, this is a significant group ready to connect or reconnect.

Starting to date in later life is not always comfortable.  Yet dating professionals find that older singles are more relaxed than the younger set according to the Times article.  One reason is that the older singles don’t have the pressure to marry or start a family.  What becomes more important is finding someone to share common interests.

Greg Liberman, president and chief executive of Spark Networks owns specialty dating sites including JDate, ChristianMingle, Black-Singles and SilverSingles.  Across all of his dating sites, the company had a 93 percent increase in new members 50 and older in the first eight months of this year compared with the same span last year, noted the Times article.

He also observed that adult children are now buying dating-site memberships for their divorced or widowed parents.  Apparently personal ads are becoming a thing of the past.

The older market is large and because of its size, sites have emerged especially for the older date seekers.  Examples are, and

How to get started?  Consider the following tips.

  • Read the private policy of the website before you complete and submit your profile.  You want an extra-safe online dating site.
  • Realize that people are not always honest.  Age is often underestimated and pictures can be from five or ten years ago.   So don’t be surprised.
  • Meet initially in a public place.
  • Go slowly, use common sense and always be a little suspicious.
  • Guard you anonymity.  Do not include your last name, address, workplace, phone number or any other identifying information online.
  • Expect to pay for your own meal or drink, at least for the first date.  Don’t assume that he will.
  • It’s reasonable to expect good manners from your date.  First impressions do count.
  • Show interest in the other person and ask questions.  It’s reasonable to expect the same in return.
  • The more people you connect with, the better the odds of finding a good match.

Here’s a success story about Jane and Sam (names are changed). Jane age 68 was reluctant to date online.  Her best friend was tired of encouraging her so she wrote Jane’s profile and entered it on JDate.   To her surprise, Jane received five replies and met with each one.  Only one of the men was of interest to her and that was Sam, age 77.

They had a geographic challenge.  He lived in Claremont; Jane lived in the South Bay.  For their first date they met halfway at a Denny’s.  Next they met halfway at a Mimi’s Café. The next date was at Disneyland.  Why?  Jane wanted to know if he was physically fit.  And the result?  “He outlasted me at Disneyland.  We dated for 5 years before he passed away — and they were great years.”

N.S., to get over your apprehension…consider applying the NIKE principle and   “just do it.”  Thousands of the 50+ are online.  Join them so good things can happen. There is little to lose.

Sending you best wishes in finding a good match.

P.S. Dear reader:  If you have an Internet dating story to share – fabulous, average or not so good — let me know and I’ll compile them in a column.  Names will be omitted.

Copyright 2011 Helen Dennis. All rights reserved.

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